The Significance Of Cheryl's Birthday

By A Real Singaporean

Background story: Primary 5 maths question goes viral, stumps adults

If you have been active on social media recently, you would probably have come across this tricky Math Olympiad question. Looking at the comments, it's apparent that the only thing commenters agree on is the glaringly bad grammar. Whereas opinions on both the quality of the question and, of course, the answer are mixed.

As correctly (but not so eloquently) explained by the official answer sheet, Cheryl's birthday is clearly July 16. Unfortunately, while a significant portion of commenters arrived at the correct date, another large group of Singaporeans are still adamant that August 17 should/can be the answer.

Sure, you may say this is just a stupid logic problem that has no bearing on the real world, but, to me, Singaporeans' lack of consensus on the answer represents a much larger problem than simply finding out a girl's birthday. In my opinion, it is a sign that many Singaporeans are not just incapable of solving a marginally complex problem but also unable to comprehend and accept the logically sound solution to the problem.

The root of the problem is obviously the Singaporean education system's emphasis on content rather than cultivating logical thinking skills. It is about time that the MOE addresses this issue and provide young Singaporeans with the intellectual foundation that is crucial for the mastery of more sophisticated concepts.

This was reproduced with permission from editors of The Real Singapore.


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